Hola From Tenerife

Subscribe to our free newsletter to get an (ir)regular ray of Tenerife sunshine in your inbox. Just enter your email address below.

Delivered by FeedBurner

Close

COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Festivals in Tenerife and other large gatherings are still not able to be held with social distancing and other restrictions still in force. Events listed here, therefore, are subject to cancellation or change without notice. Such circumstances are beyond our control.

Please like and follow our facebook page for more updates >>

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Dodgy Translations

Hedgehog with snorkel and flippers

A XXX rated salad, a submarine hedgehog and a herd of 5,000 bison rampaging across England's New Forest ... What are these? The latest Sun headlines? Monty Python story lines? No, just the world bent out of shape by linguistic error.

By popular demand, well, OK, one request, I thought I would share with you some of my favorite moments from my linguistic clanger collection. Actually, I don't believe the list is that enviable, but these have caused the odd giggle.

Is that a chicken in your salad, or are you just pleased to see me?

As you may (or may not) know, MOST of the time you can safely change a masculine word in Spanish (one that ends in an O) into it's feminine equivalent, simply by changing the last letter to an A. Of course, there are exceptions to this.

So there was the time that a friend of a friend once asked her future mother-in-law for "ensalada de polla". Ensalada (salad) is OK. Pollo is chicken. Unfortunately, polla is not hen, that's gallina. Polla is a part of the male anatomy that one does not normally eat as part of a light summer lunch. At least not in company of one's future mother-in-law. :)

Screwing with the natural habitat ...

One of my favourite linguistic clangers comes from my days at the newspapers.

What animal is spiky and does a lot of damage to the seabed?

A scuba diving hedgehog, maybe? Well, only maybe. The story, which originally ran in the local Spanish press, talked about the plague of erizo that were damaging the seabed around the south of the island, and indeed erizo is the Spanish word for hedgehog.

But, I had never seen a hedgehog in the south of Tenerife anywhere, much less in the sea (we do have 'em, on land, in the north), so out came the dictionary. Ah, erizo is also the translation of sea urchin, so that would be our plague. Logical really, both being spiky.

(In English, sea urchins are called sea urchins because hedgehogs used to be called urchins until the 15th Century. So sea urchins are basically ocean hedgehogs!)

This isn't a problem, in context, but it does mean that you have to read the entire context to get the right animal. The funny part is that one of the other English language newspapers obviously didn't read the entire context, because, a couple of weeks after this, their translation of the story appeared, complete with a picture of a hedgehog.

Theirs didn't have a snorkel though!

But, to be fair, even the professionals have off days.

Spanish national news agency EFE used to provide the newspaper I worked for with stories translated into English. One alarming report claimed that a herd of some 5,000 BISON were laying waste to the New Forest in the south of England. This caused us a laugh, but we knew what the problem was. In Spanish, B's are pronounced a bit like V's and vice versa.

What was really running around the south of England in its thousands were VISÓN, which when translated into English are MINK, let out of a fur farm by animal activists. Still damaging pests, but I think you'd notice the difference if you met one.

As luck would have it on this occasion, we had "our man on the spot", no more than a few hundred yards from a cattle grid into the forest, in New Milton. My late father; always a man capable of maturely assessing a situation and acting accordingly. He did indeed report the sighting of one bison in the vicinity. In the bathroom: a wash hand bison (basin).

3 comments:

Tenerife Scribbler said...

LOL... well done! My son's done the pollo/a one before, too. He asked for a polla para llevar (take away willy).

My written Spanish is awful, never having formally studied it, and I once wrote "...vamos a volver en un ano" - we are going to return in an anus. In my defence, though, it was an English keyboard!!

(año = year, ano = embarrassing clanger)

Anonymous said...

LOL! Polla para llevar could make a great name for a male escort agency!

Volver could be interpreted as "throw up" as in sick, too. :)

My written Spanish is not all that great either. I did study a bit and, actually, my spelling is much better in Spanish than it is in English.

But I also suffer from an English keyboard with this computer. I bought it through my Spanish bank and I asked for English software. They were very kind as to get everything English.

I have discovered that when I write emails in Gmail, it will detect and spellcheck in either English or Spanish automatically. Neat. And it puts in the accents that I have neglected to use. Of course, it couldn't correct a problem like that where the mistake is a real word.

However, I've noticed that many Spanish people don't bother with the accents these days, so people do read what you meant to say from the entire context.

And at least the lack of an "enyay" cleans up a certain word to an innocent ice cream cono. :)

Tenerife Scribbler said...

LOL... Imagery of ice cream coño... the mind boggles! Perhaps one for another type of blog :D

Tenerife Topics

Adeje Almond Flower Route April in Tenerife Arafo Arico Arona Ash Wednesday Auditorio de Tenerife August in Tenerife Brexit Buenavista del Norte Burial of the Sardine Canarian Cuisine Canaries Day Candelaria Candelmas Carnaval de Día Carnival 1987 Carnival 1988 Carnival 1989 Carnival 1990 Carnival 1991 Carnival 1992 Carnival 1993 Carnival 1994 Carnival 1995 Carnival 1996 Carnival 1997 Carnival 1998 Carnival 1999 Carnival 2000 Carnival 2001 Carnival 2002 Carnival 2003 Carnival 2004 Carnival 2005 Carnival 2006 Carnival 2007 Carnival 2008 Carnival 2009 Carnival 2010 Carnival 2011 Carnival 2012 Carnival 2013 Carnival 2014 Carnival 2015 Carnival 2016 Carnival 2017 Carnival 2018 Carnival 2019 Carnival 2020 Carnival 2021 Carnival 2022 Carnival 2023 Carnival Foods Carnival History Carnival Main Parade Carnival Queen Santa Cruz Carnival Queens 2001-2020 Carnivals of the World Children's Carnaval Parade Chinyero Christmas in Tenerife Christopher Columbus Comparsas Corazones de Tejina Corpus Christi COVID-19 Craft Fairs Daytime Carnival December in Tenerife Día de la Cruz Día de San José Easter in Tenerife El Gordo Christmas Lottery El Rosario El Sauzal El Tanque Epidemics in Tenerife Farmers Markets Fasnia February in Tenerife Fiesta Nacional de España Fiestas de San Juan Fiestas El Palmar Flavours of Christmas Free Tour Garachico Granadilla de Abona Guía de Isora Güímar History of Tenerife Icod de los Vinos Innocent Saints January in Tenerife Jardín Botánico July in Tenerife June in Tenerife Junior Carnival Queen La Gomera La Guancha La Matanza de Acentejo La Orotava La Palma Eruption La Siervita La Victoria de Acentejo Las Burras de Güímar Las Celias de Tenerife Los Cristianos Los Cristianos Carnival Los Gigantes Los Gigantes Carnival Los Indianos Los Realejos Los Reyes Los Silos March in Tenerife Masca Mascarita Ponte Tacón May in Tenerife Monuments and Sculptures in Santa Cruz Municipal Holidays Municipalities Fiestas Nelson's Attack on Santa Cruz 25 Jul 1797 New Year in Tenerife Nochebuena November in Tenerife October in Tenerife Opening Parade Parade of Vintage Cars Public Holidays Puerto de la Cruz Puerto de la Cruz Carnival Rally Calendar Recipes for All Saints Day Rhythm and Harmony Comparsas Romería de San Roque Romerías San Andrés San Antonio Abad San Cristóbal de La Laguna San Juan de la Rambla San Miguel de Abona San Sebastián Santa Cruz de Tenerife Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival Themes Santa Úrsula Santiago del Teide Senior Carnival Queen September in Tenerife Shrove Tuesday Simón Bolívar Summer Carnival Tacoronte Tegueste Tenerife Carnival Dates Tenerife Disaster Tenerife Fire Tenerife Month by Month Tenerife Museums Tenerife Rally Tenerife Walking Festival Tenerife Weather Tenerife Wines Teno Rural Park This Is Tenerife (TIT) Town Halls in Tenerife Traditional Fiestas Tropical Storm Delta Vilaflor de Chasna